Kentucky gardeners enjoy a wide range of growing conditions. Hilly regions in eastern Kentucky tend to have thin, rocky soil; the central part of the state is rich bluegrass farmland; western Kentucky has rather sandy silt approaching the areas where the Ohio and Mississippi rivers converge. The warm climate and ample rainfall in Kentucky make it possible for gardeners to grow many different vegetables.
Kentucky is famous for the garden variety green beans called Kentucky Wonder. Original seeds were thought to have been brought from Central America, and the ideal climate in Kentucky paved the way for many crosses and improved varieties to be bred over the years. Original Kentucky Wonder beans are available as open-pollinated bush beans or pole beans. Several crosses, such as Kentucky Blue, (Kentucky Wonder X Blue Lake) are also found in garden centers and catalogs. Grow the original open-pollinated varieties if you want to save your own seed to plant next year.
The Kentucky growing season is long enough to permit successive sowings of green beans in the home garden. Such staggered plantings, with up to four weeks between, will extend the harvest and make fresh green beans available well into the fall.
Sweet potatoes require a long growing season, warm temperatures and plenty of moisture. These growing conditions are met in Kentucky. Poor soil can be amended with humus and compost so sweet potatoes will thrive. Plant them in ridges of hilled up, well-tilled soil. The sweet potato tubers develop along the vines’ roots, and giving the plants a deep ridge of tilled soil helps the tubers grow larger. Because the growing season extends into October before the first frost in most areas of Kentucky, sweet potatoes have plenty of time to develop good-sized tubers for fall harvest.
The climate in Kentucky is ideal for growing tomatoes. Tomatoes do require rich, well-drained soil, and adding humus is always advised. They also need warm temperatures and plenty of moisture. Irrigation may be necessary to keep tomatoes evenly moist. Don’t over fertilize with too much nitrogen, or the plants will have lots of foliage and not very many fruits. Add calcium and phosphorus to the soil if necessary to balance nitrogen levels and to promote blossoms and fruit set. Tomatoes will not grow well near black walnut trees.